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A lot of people new to mead culture wonder if there is a honey wine vs mead difference. Are they two different things or interchangeable terms? It’s not a very complex subject, though mead and honey wine recipes are. It’s a rich culture with a long history and the contemporary mixtures certainly serve the lineage of the honey wine mead recipe. While it’s a simple answer, honey wine vs mead, let’s take the opportunity to discuss a few points of view on the subject. There certainly are opinions on it.
What’s the Difference Between Mead and Honey Wine?
It’s true that the honey wine and mead are used interchangeably most of the time but, there are those who do see it as honey wine vs mead. Honey wine, to some, is a completely different process and therefore, product. An Ethiopian drink, called T’ej, is also a fermented alcoholic beverage that is very similar to mead. The major differences between mead and T’ej, or honey wine, is that it contains 20% or less honey in its end result, also it is drank much earlier than mead is. T’ej is ready to be enjoyed 3-6 weeks after starting the fermentation process and it can be aged much longer. Although it can be aged like wine or mead in that, it’ll improve over time.
Another difference sited in the honey wine vs mead debate is that mead has a lot more in it than just honey. The argument here is that honey wine, like wine itself, should only have one ingredient. Guess what that one ingredient is…it’s honey. Brewing and distilling are more complex than that though, even the proponents of a honey wine vs mead brew their drinks with more than one ingredient. Some use more water or less, some use hops, some use flowers, herbs, and spices. There are a variety of different meads, honey wines, beers, wines, and spirits. It’s a culinary art that stretches centuries and like anything else, it reinvents itself along the way.
So, what is the difference between mead and honey wine? Depends on who you ask but, essentially nothing.
Honey Wine & Mead
Since we know there is no major difference between honey wine and mead, where does the honey wine vs mead debate come from? As anyone can tell, besides cultural brews, it’s for legal reasons. After all, we don’t call a beer a grain wine or wine a grape beer. Without getting into all the red tape surrounding legal classifications, that’s the best anyone can come up with. It is interesting that many wineries produce honey wines while brewery’s make mead. Though, that seems to a marketing thing. Nothing wrong with that, it makes sense to carry the brand. Mead is thought of as less a civilized fancy drink while honey wine sounds more up the societal ladder.
It’s essential to know that there is no honey wine vs mead though. If anything, when you come across a honey wine it may mean that it’s simply fermented honey while a mead may have more herbs and spices in the recipe. That’s a matter of taste and why not try both? Who knows, you may like the fermented honey and water rather than a drink with more tidbits in it. Don’t let anyone sell you on the superiority of one over another, it boils to what you like, and that honey wine vs mead is no such thing. Only in the mind of marketers and those who have drinks tied to their culture, in the latter case it’s understandable to maintain the difference.
A Honey Wine Mead
Instead of scouring the internet looking to see if there is a honey wine vs mead debate or if there is a difference, why not find out for yourself. Here is a recipe for a… wait for it… honey wine mead! With only a simple brewing kit you can taste a simple honey wine mead recipe and compare it with mead, note any differences where you see them. Hidden Legend Winery has a number of choice meads that you can compare and contrast with, get in the debate yourself and let us know if you see any truth to the honey wine vs mead debate.
Brewing is an art and a centuries-old craft, it’s a great practice to pick-up and join in on the conversation with. Perhaps you’ll find a new distinction to answer what’s the difference between mead and honey wine debate. No matter which side you end up on, it’ll be a tasty journey for sure. Who doesn’t love comparing and contrasting different drinks, even if it’s in the name of the honey wine vs mead debate!